NEW YORK (PIX11) — Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz met this week with President Joe Biden as well as the four other city district attorneys and Mayor Eric Adams to discuss how to combat a new wave of shootings.
On Sunday, Katz joined PIX on Politics host Dan Mannarino to discuss Biden’s gun violence strategy, bail reform and more. She described the president’s approach as a “strategically smart plan.”
“I think it sent an extremely powerful message to the rest of the country and to New Yorkers that we will not give up our streets, that we are going to work in coordination to make sure that all the agencies are on the same page when it comes to combating gun violence,” Katz said.
The district attorney highlighted several aspects of the plan that stood out to her, including funding and tools for police officers, crime prevention services such as drug rehabilitation, and meaningful re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated people.
“You can’t prosecute your way out of gun violence. I think that was the clear message,” Katz said. “You prosecute drivers of crime and you make sure the next generation doesn’t pick up the exact same guns that we just got off the street.”
Her partnership between the four other city district attorneys and Mayor Eric Adams is also extremely important, Katz said. However, when asked about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s controversial policy to not prosecute certain crimes, Katz sidestepped whether she agreed with his decision.
“At the end of the day, every borough and every district attorney does what they think is best to make their borough safest for the constituents they represent. I believe DA Bragg’s efforts will shake out. I think he has the best interest of his borough at heart,” she said. “He’s had many, many discussions on how he wants to move forward in addition to that memo. I look forward to seeing what he does in his borough, but I have faith that at the end of the day his goal is exactly the same as all of ours: Make our borough the safest it possibly can be for the constituents we represent.”
As far as bail reform — another highly debated issue that some law enforcement and political leaders have tied to gun violence in the city — Katz said she believes a larger public safety component needs to be added to existing state law.
“Forty-nine other states out of the entire country … allow for some dangerous component, allow for a judge to take that into account, allow for the district attorney to take it into account when asking for pretrial detention,” Katz said. “And I do think that it would make a difference in the state.”
In the meantime, Katz said uses other tools such as bail, curfew restrictions, and electronic monitoring to keep Queens safe.
“I think we should get to a place where we take into account community safety,” she said of bail reform. “But I also think we should get to a place where we take into account someone who needs drug rehabilitation or mental health services or something that will help them. Nobody’s getting out of Rikers better than when they went in.”